This is Jennifer Anselm, from the same orphanage in Tanzania as Jeni Joseph (there are 4, so this is Jeni 1, Jeni Joseph is Jeni 2). We’ll just call her Jeni A. Jeni A. has lived at the orphanage since it opened in 2009. She previously lived with her grandmother after the death of her parents from HIV related problems. Her grandmother was completely destitute and had to make a choice between her and her younger sister since she was not capable of caring for both. They do come to visit her at the orphanage. Jeni A. has consistently been at the top of her class (she has scored as high as first place in her class rankings), and is recognized by all the other children in the orphanage as their leader. She has made herself personally in charge of all her fellow first graders. The teachers trust her to be the delivery person with correspondence for the orphanage administrators, and to distribute things like pencils and rulers because she is always fair and thorough. Jeni A. currently wants to be a doctor to help children in similar situations as her and her “family” at the orphanage.
At the end of the 2012 school year, Jeni ranked 31 out of 104, with a high B average. Congratulations, Jeni! We also received a wonderful Christmas letter from Jeni.
Jeni has received an extraordinary offer. She did so well in her classes and on her Form 4 exam that she was offered the chance to go straight to the university. Although Greg and Shannon were a little concerned that she is too young to do this, Jeni carefully explained why she wants to do this.
Jeni wants to study engineering, and there is no national standard for the Form 5 and 6 curriculum that includes physics, and the other classes she needs to go into engineering. In fact, the quality of Form 5 and Form 6 education is so poor that there are many students who are graduating from Form 6 with terrific grades, and not getting into university. So Jeni will be starting university in October!
She will be attending the university in Mbeya, near the border with Zambia. Although Greg and Shannon feel that her engineering education might not qualify her to pass exams to work in other countries, they are confident that she can take some remedial courses to catch up if needed.
Jeni will be applying for a post-secondary scholarship from ONE, so we will be staying in touch with her as she moves forward.
Jeni received the results of her Form 4 exam. She scored high enough to be in Division One, the top 1% of all students in Tanzania! We are so proud of her. She will be able to take any number of paths at this point. She is currently taking “bridge” classes to keep her busy over the next few months while she prepares to start her next program. She will enter Form 5, but we will not know where she will be studying for a few months yet. At that point, she will also need to make a decision about the direction she wishes to go, so we will find out about that later this year.
Our contact Shannon visited Tanzania early in the month and was able to visit with all of our girls, who have just entered Form 4. This is a particularly important year. At the end of the year, all the students will take a national exam to see if they move on to Forms 5 and 6. Many, many students do not, which means they are done with their education, and have to find work that will accept them with only four years of secondary study. We have high hopes for Jeni, as she is doing really well in school, and working hard. She sent us a wonderful card, which we have included here.
Jeni turned 16 this year, and she is really growing into an amazing young woman. She had a little trouble when high school started, as she was getting very interested in boys, and was neglecting her studies a bit. But she is more than on track at this point! She received her Form 2 exam results and she got the highest scores of all the students, which places her squarely in Division 1, the highest division! This will open up so many opportunities to her, and we’re really excited for her.
We received some photos from Shannon’s most recent visit, and it’s really easy to see what a beautiful woman Jeni is becoming. We’ve also included her letter from partway through the year.
Shannon and Greg went to Tanzania in January. It was Greg’s first time back in more than a year, and he says all the girls are growing up so fast. They are all lovely young women now. He sent a couple of pictures of Jeni to us, and we can hardly believe how grown up and beautiful she looks. There is hardly a hint of the little girl we met even three years ago. She is doing well in school and thriving, which we are happy to hear.
Shannon finally made it back to Tanzania to visit the girls, and we are so delighted to hear her news. She says that both Jeni A. and Jeni Joseph love being at St. Theresa’s in Mwanga. Jennifer says that her teachers call her the class president. She will almost certainly run in future years if she stays at that school and follows this mindset. Academically, their teachers report good progress, and we will wait to see what the midterm report shows in a couple months.
Shannon sent us a couple pictures of the girls. They are so beautiful, and it is so wonderful to see them looking happy.
We have received some wonderful news from Tanzania. After a lot of upheaval at the orphanage, all our girls have been removed from that situation, and are living in different places in town. Some are living with teachers, some with their families again, and some at a hostel that our friends Greg and Shannon are running. The difference in the students’ performance in school has been stark: they are all doing so much better, and are so happy. It is a very good thing to hear!
Jeni A. passed her exam to enter Form 1 (like 8th grade in the U.S., but considered secondary school). She got really good results, enough to enter the best school around, but our contacts Greg and Shannon told us that they prefer her to go to an associated school, St. Theresa’s. They feel it will provide her more structure, and we trust their thoughts on this. St. Theresa’s is a boarding school in Mwanza, which is about 90 minutes from Moshi, so Jeni will be living there.
For her year end letter, we asked her to tell us what talent or skill or gift she has that she can offer to the world. Here is her letter to us. She says that her skill is to be an artist and that she’d like to teach it to others. We hope she can do that, and we wish her the best of luck in school next year. We have no doubt she will do very well!
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Jennifer. Our contacts did send us some letters last year, but apparently they got lost in the mail, which is very sad. We hear that things are still a bit hard at the orphanage, because of the upheaval in leadership. But Jeni is striving ahead, and doing OK in school We received a letter from her in May, and we’ve attached it here for you to see. We had asked about challenges that they have in school, as well as a few other things. We hope you enjoy it!
It was a delight to finally meet Jennifer during my visit in December of 2014. Jeni is tall and beautiful, and very sweet. According to Greg, she “always does the right thing,” even if she gets grief for it, and she doesn’t always understand why other people don’t do the right thing. The other girls at the orphanage kind of see her as mom, so that is a double-edged sword for Jeni. They go to her when they need things, but also feel a bit separate from her. In our conversations, she said she wants to teach grades 4, 5, 6 and 7. She says they can pay attention and think, but are not as troublesome as the high schoolers. She is one of the originals at the orphanage, so she is also very tied into what is going on there.
One day, Jeni asked me to sing her a song, and so I sang her the first verse of “You Are my Sunshine.” Then I asked her to sing me a song. She and her friend Jennifer Japhet (Jeni 3) sang this lovely song in Kiswahili.
Jeni and several of the other girls performed a dance routine to help one of the volunteers, Paola (from Germany) with a movie she was making. One of the girls designed all the outfits and they came up with the choreography on their own. At the last dance, a bunch of the other kids from the orphanage joined in, as the song is apparently a very popular one there in Tanzania. Jennifer is wearing a blue shirt and blue skirt and black and white polka dotted tights.
With the help of our friend and contact Shannon, I was able to interview the girls about their lives and school. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to get the audio to work on the first half of the video, so here’s the second half! Even without the first half of the video, you can see their personalities shining through, and see how much their English has improved. When they started at St. Louis English Medium School, they hardly spoke any English at all. They are a little shy about it, but once you get them going, they are pretty irrepressible!
Jeni’s grades this year weren’t as good as they have been in the past, but she is still doing very well in school, and has moved easily into sixth grade. The next year of school begins in February of 2015.
New Letter From August, 2013
We received a wonderful letter from Jeni in August of 2013. Her English is getting better every day! You can click on the letter and enlarge it to full screen to read it clearly.
Christmas Letter From 2013
Jeni A. sent a sweet letter to us for Christmas. We love her drawings!